Censorship in comics: The Art in Condom

Ledroit, requiem, mills, comics, 漫画, 膣, ヨーロッパ人
Detail from original art from comics Requiem by Pat Mills & Olivier Ledroit, sold for 20.000 $ at Sotheby's in 2005

If Michelangelo was active in today, his nude masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture David would come wrapped in plastic, with a huge warning in big threatening letters:

Not suitable for minors. Contains nudity. Excessive viewing could cause rotting of the spine. Statue heavy, picking up could cause back injury! Four out of five dentists say that chewing marble statues can damage your teeth.
At the same time, when you turn on your TV you get truly damaging content, you have a choice between watching latest reality on how to make money from child abuse with Honey Boo-Boo, promotion of sugary caffeinated drinks as choice of “health conscious” and plastic fashion models selling their heavily implanted bodies as an ideal of beauty.

british comic art comics Axa barbarian post-apocalyptic Romero nude
British strip Axa contained more nudity than it’s American counterpart published in the 1980-es. Art by Romero

  Sending kids to porn sites
Why are their vulgar backsides allowed into public space, in mainstream media available in food chains for “ordinary people”, and even teach youngsters how to achieve the same via games for their phones – while highly artistic Claudia Demonia’s pubis is censored in comic art published in America?
To train people to arouse & masturbate with disgusting imagery on the sight? No wonder so many obese people are in America, as the aesthetics has become such an unwanted item.

Egypt, Thebes, tomb, Zahawi
Burial chamber of Senenmut, Lost Tombs of Thebes by Z. Hawas

Furthermore, TV offers a confession of a teenager who got pregnant to get into “16 and Pregnant”, obvious proof that teenagers are not unfamiliar with sexual content and they do engage in sex activities way before the age of 18 – the breaking point in currently widely accepted “Marvel system for rating the content of comics”, at which Mister Marvel decided kids are “ready to explore erotica”.
Why are teenagers who engage in sexual activities at the age of sixteen not allowed to see any nudity? I mean how exactly does the lawmaker plan to prevent them seeing nudity while they engage in acts of lovemaking? Should we advise them to turn off the lights, and hope things will turn out for the best? Such behavior would expose them to STDs and unwanted pregnancies, as it is tricky to deploy a condom in dark.

Even if they are abstinent – is there a legal age until which babies are allowed to see their mother’s breasts as well? Besides, aren’t the kids in America exposed to famous Greek sculptures in their primary school? Egyptian goddesses also usually have bare breasts, and how do these kids learn about prehistoric depiction of Venus? Judging by the lawmakers approach, I guess they don’t learn that stuff in school, and surely not many parents take their kids overseas to see the Rome with famous Michelangelo’s painting on the walls of Sistine chapel, in the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City – where nudity flourishes in abundance.
The only consequence of that attitude is – again – literally sending kids to the porn sites, for they will look for sexual content, and web is harder to control than the newsstands & bookshops. Unless someone educates them about comic art, and web shops start giving more “look inside” pages for the audience to see if the artist’s style matches their taste – Americans are going to lose the comic art fan community forever. The Americans are already spending three thousand percent less money on comics per capita compared to French in one year. (In the US it’s 30 cents per year,  while in France it is 8.66 $).

Chop off the head, but leave the pants on

comics marvel scottie young hate fairyland
Gertrude from I hate Fairyland by Skottie Young

One more reason to brand the attitude of Disney owned Marvel and their rating system as absurd, is their practice to give the same rating to violent and sexual content: while sex does becomes legal at some point in life, and nobody normal can argue it’s benevolent nature – the violence is prohibited period. Exercising it bears grave consequences, as it should.Nevertheless, Marvel’s Director of Content & Character Development Sana Amanat, a board member at the organization “Seeds of Peace” BTW, decided to break with their old fashion of keeping the kids away from the “explicit stuff ” – by publishing highly violent Skottie Young’s “I Hate Fairyland” series, where the protagonist is a girl which slaughters fairy-tale characters and gets hurt herself along the way as well… 

Then that same “peace activist” Amanat co-creates the first series to feature a Muslim female super-hero “Ms. Marvel” (dressed in long sleeves, of course) – but still no trace of pubic hair or bare breasts anywhere in their comics, to invite people to “make love – not war”. Ridiculous, no? Like they are saying “we are giving you the freedom to chose violence and Islam in your comics, but we are not giving you the freedom to chose a juicy vulva or phallus to educate yourselves about making love instead”. In the documentary on the Monty Python film Life of Brian, British comedian John Cleese described that attitude as: 

'so deeply uncomfortable about every aspect of sex, that they don’t much care about wars or destroying the environment or financial corruption… But anything that has to do with sex sets them off – and it’s because these people are operating on a very very low level of mental health.'

Obviously, the bosses ruling the popular culture have no plans to help fixing that unsettling situation, so the mental disturbance continues until they change their mind, or unless new publishers opt for more “indecent” titles. I just hope they are faster than Marvel who could buy it for the sake of keeping it in their basement, to rule out any competition on the English language market. As rumor has it that’s why you could not buy Moebius’s classics, like Arzach, Long Tomorrow or Airtight garage in English translation… (After Dark Horse bought rights on his work, re-prints instantly became “best-sellers” on Amazon)

Lobo, Bisley, Giffen, Grant, comics, 漫画,アメリ, ロボカ人, ロボ
Bisley's Lobo choking people, with fig leaf protecting his modesty

Almost the same happened with my favorite American character, somewhat older Lobo (DC): The guy chops extremities all over the universe, but nowhere is he seen diving his nose in some busty decollete, which would totally suit his extremely passionate character. Okay, some might argue that if Lobo would regularly practice sex, he’d be less violent, so he’d lose the motivation to misbehave, and therefore we’d lose the comics…

I say it’s bullshit. Simon Bisley covered naked Lobo’s penis with a fig leaf, like he’s the type who’d ever be concerned about the public outrage by his nudity while he is slaughtering around as usual? Come on… Don’t even start with that story how the main audience are straight men, and they don’t want to look at the penises in comics, because when Lobo reincarnates as a woman – his private parts are also covered with undies. 

But being British with corresponding sense of humor, genius artist Bisley at least designed it the way it appears grotesque to the reader, and female Lobo’s undies have a hilarious zipper in a strategic place, too. Hats off.

Electronic comic
Why do we care what American “cultural police” is doing to the erotica in comic art? Because the English-speaking publishers aim is to take the global market, as they are aware that international audience wants comics in that universal language to get them quickly, without waiting for locals to assess whether certain titles are profitable and then possibly translating it, a process which can take decades. But they are also destroying the industry on the way to lose profits, helping to further cement the situation where Marvel and DC rule comics universe, as there is no difference between those two publishers and “censored” artwork by outsiders.
What do the publishers know anyway? They suffocate us with stupendous “graphic novels”, a poor replacement for splendid and brave visuals of the real comics: If we want to read a book, we will buy it. If we want an innocent picture book, we can buy that too – in a children’s department.
The sales in electronic books outnumbered the sales of paper books anyway, so what’s the problem – not even a snoopy parents can dig into their offspring’s archives so easily.

   Erotica helping in education

Marini, Eagles, Rome, sex, German, 性交, 欧州の, ヨーロッパの漫画 ,
Love scene from Eagles of Rome by Enrico Marini (2015)

Besides, somebody should already explain to the intrusive family that even if sexual content is the main reason kids are seduced into it, it surely helps to motivate them to deal with otherwise difficult curriculum: fabulous comics library set up in our toilet by my young uncle thought me about Norse mythology thanks to Thor, the series about “big discoveries” thought me about Alexander the Great, Magellan and such, Asterix explained the Roman Empire, Tarzan raised me to respect the animals. 

And then, thanks to the monthly Horror, the whole new world of swamp beings and vampires with zombies emerged, setting my curiosity into direction of Lord Byron’s and E.A. Poe’s literature. Whoever were the editors of that fabulous weekly strip-magazine we had when I was a kid – I’m forever grateful to them for making me develop fine taste in art, too, by regularly publishing superb Moebius as well.

Again, it all happened because of nudist Axa and her excited lovers. So yes, sexuality was definitely a big part of that world, and I’m glad I learned about it from the comics instead from cheap porn magazines or movies. Such an important gift I got from the comics – a teaching that girls don’t necessarily have to wait to be kissed, and then faint when it happens, as shown in other media.
So kudos to American Wonder Woman, but her strength lies only in her ability to fight like a man, while her sexuality is one of a catholic nun. What a perversion of facts of life! In reality females having abundance of male hormones in their veins are regularly more passionate then their more “feminine” floppy counterparts, don’t you agree?
The one who surely agrees is Enrico Marini, the author of Eagles of Rome (2015), a novel about Battle of the Teutoburg Forest – one of the most decisive battles recorded in military history and “Rome’s greatest defeat”. Marini’s female warriors do make love with men, and no, I’m not concerned about my kids seeing some nipple in scenes showing how German Barbarians make love or war (they show it in both situations). By chance I got this in unfamiliar Dutch language, issued by Daragaud, but it was a relief to find that Europe Comics also publishes their editions in English, for I want my children to learn about famous Roman general Varus battling German Arminius (Hermann) on their own, too.

See it for yourself, and while getting hooked on the visuals – get smarter as well, by educating yourself on world’s military history. Unless adventures of imaginary Supermuscleman with zero sexual drive are more appealing to you that is.

Anyhow, after I grew up and started watching TV series Big Bang Theory,a sitcom about highly educated physicists who are supposedly big fans of comics as they read Batman and Superman and then argue on “which of these is better comics”, I thought they were funny…
Until I realized how sad reality of comic-art fans in America is.
What most of them are getting there is only these Supermusclemen dressed up in spandex…

  Comics in condom

To be honest, I knew something was off as soon as I started ordering albums via that fabulous new thing called internet, and getting them in some sort of condom – wrapped in a plastic bag, to “spare others of the disturbing sight” – like stuff inside can make you pregnant, pervert, or who knows publishers and dealers have in mind when doing it. 

sex, Dungeon, Sfar, Trondheim, comics, 漫画 , 性交
Love scene between from Dungeon series, by Sfar, Trondheim et al

Whoever is responsible – they totally match sexuality in comics with stuff from porn magazines. The absurdity of that is seen when American edition of infantile Dungeon series by French artists Sfar & Trondheim has a label “For mature readers – brief nudity and sexual situations”?! Because occasionally some ninja-rabbit copulates with a princess duck or giantess from the woods? At least NBM – the New York based publishers of English edition – opted against the censorship, therefore the label “brief nudity” stands to avoid legal battles I guess.

To understand why such an outrage for this read having to having any label at all, check how that comics basically looks like in the pic above.

In short: a real comic art fan supports artist’s freedom to draw whatever they think enriches the story and characters, and no, we are not outraged when accidentally exposed to some nipple or labia, not even when we see some anime where protagonists grow enormous penises to fight off the enemy, I forgot the title, it was back in the late 1980-es.

censored, comics, manga, sex, Ghost Shell
Censored Ghost in the Shell, by Amazon user ZEROMUS

So if Mister Publisher is so afraid of possible violent demonstrations against retailers as it happened back in 1950-es in the US, as if anybody today would be stupid enough to challenge the team of lawyers hired by Amazon, or if that same Publisher is afraid to lose 40 percent of American readers if opts for uncensored version of some comic art, as Wikipedia says, the US comics sales drop by 40% if they get “mature readers” label – Mister Publisher should also think of global audience lost when Amazon users warn each other about censorship in some edition in the comments section.

  Losing profits
So who buys it online? Nobody! You are printing it just for the kids, but they are also not stupid to continue buying something that lobotomizes them. How? Your decision to support the placement of sexuality exclusively into the zones of little artistic value.

It makes the readers of Ghost in the Shell manga feel like a complete idiots for not understanding the story of a comic, or they conclude how “Japanese culture is so different from West” – none of which is true, but the publisher omitted two whole pages with visual info from the original. In the original version, available in English thanks to Kodansha’s bi-lingual edition printed in Japan, Batou, a male protagonist abruptly merges his mind with female cyborg and that way he engages in lesbian group sex – and says “It’s all slimy and sticky, like copulating slugs”… For he, a male, felt how it feels to be an aroused female. But censored version completely skips the erotic part and the reader sees a boat in a stormy waters, after which Batou says “All those fluids – I feel dizzy”??!!

Besides denying the info about how well cyborgs are made in cult Masamune Shirow’s world, the reader is confused even more when cyborg Motoko Kusanagi, using the fact her e-brain merged with Batou’s – makes him punch himself in the nose after the comment, a little trick she often does as a revenge after being provoked by someone she is merged with. Then, if the poor reader liked the visuals and is lucky to be informed, he searches for “uncensored edition” – and finds the girls on page 95 naked as they should be, and lesbian sex follows as in original, but then it appears the older, “uncensored” Dark Horse edition censors the text, apparently with the purpose to avoid offending lesbians this time – which again brings confusion to the read. Sick indeed.

Lucrecia, Borgia, Manara, Jodorowsky, 漫画 , comics
The Borgias by Jodorowsky & Manara: Lucrezia at the witch hut, providing ingredient for a spell
Lucrecia, Borgia, Manara, Jodorowsky, 漫画 , comics
Lucrezia releiving herself with pants on, censored version of art by master of erotica Milo Manara

There are other absurdities as well, such as Jodorowski & Manara’s Lucrecia Borgia peeing with her panties on in Heavy Metal magazine from July 2009, or Dracula’s wife Elizabeth Barthory from Ledroit’s Requiem getting a cloud right in front of her private parts – while bloody axe used few panels ago to kill Mithra, matriarch of the ghouls, is left to shine in all its glory. The censored panel is so ugly I will spare you the view. Hopefully new editor-in-chief Grant Morrison will have the courage to ignore censors and remove their nonsense from Heavy Metal magazine.
Oh, just a small digression: in the same issue, magazine features an add for trans-sexual erotica, which I’m still studying in order to understand the rules applying to the matter. Would anyone be so kind and help me understand what’s going on there?

censored, art, comics, Baldazzini, Bayba, 漫画
What’s the purpose of blurred nipples in this ad for Baldazzini's comics?

See Misters and Misses Publishers – you are wasting your money on printing censored comic art, for you will not make profits from selling “family friendly” version of comics for grown ups, as Disney’s Marvel already owns that market, and the only right course of action for you is to offer regular, provocative and sexy comic art, as artists intended and the audience wants them to be… Together with their little nieces, snooping through their stuff to find out what’s so magical in these albums that makes hordes of youngsters from the neighborhood stand in a line and beg to borrow them with a promise to take care of them as they would care for the pupil of their own eye. For the end – to paraphrase (in)famous Peter Hitchens concluding remarks in Oxford Union proposition, ” Freedom of Speech and Right to Offend”, 2005 :

Ignorant boors protesting things they find offensive are annoying. Educated professors and students are disturbing. But government doing the same is frightening.

Which doesn’t mean any of them is necessarily going to win this battle.

requiem, comics, art, ledroit, Mills, 漫画, 膣, ヨーロッパの, セクシー